British woman lifeguard will inspire locals, Goa authorities hope

November 10th, 2008 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Nov 10 (IANS) A young British woman, Kerry Blewett, part of a team of experts brought to the coastal state of Goa to train lifeguards, has been given a tough job - persuade local women to become lifeguards and then train the recruits.While her colleagues teach the local lifeguards various techniques to handle drowning emergencies at sea, Blewett has been given the special role of motivator by Drishti Special Response (DSR), the agency appointed by the Goa government to make Goan beaches safe for swimmers.

DSR has had problems hiring female lifeguards.

“We’ve repeatedly advertised in local newspapers for women lifeguards. We haven’t received even one response,” DSR’s General Manager (Operations) P.N. Pande told IANS.

“We hope someone like Kerry can be inspiration for local women to join the profession.”

Pande felt one reason why local women did not want to join the lifeguard services was the trainers were men. “This could be a source of apprehension. We are hoping that with someone like Kerry around, we could have women lifeguards on our rolls.”

There have been a few incidents in the recent past which have got beach safety professionals worried.

“From Oct 4, till date 33 people died due to drowning on Goan beaches and six of them were women. Just a few days ago, two Iranian women drowned,” Pande said.

In a recent case, a lifeguard could not perform a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a drowning woman, which involves mouth to mouth resuscitation, as “others with the woman objected”, Pande said.

“This has accentuated the importance of having women lifeguards on our rolls.”

Goa’s 106 km long coastline attracts nearly two million tourists each year. The coastal state presently has 149 lifeguards, 52 in north Goa and 72 in the south. There are 25 lifeguards on standby. Kerry and her colleagues are training 22 more.

A beach safety programme was recently launched by the government to check the increasing number of drowning incidents in the state.

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